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Request for Proposals: Unionale

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Request for Proposals: Unionale

Sponsored by TD

Deadline: July 6, 2022 at 5 p.m.

Project Overview

The City of Toronto invites practicing artists (including artist teams and collectives) to submit their proposals for the first edition of Unionale, a new public art thoroughfare currently under construction in Union Station.

The artist(s) will be selected through an open, one-stage competition. The finalist will be awarded an artist contract and will be paid a fee of $25,000.00 (+HST) for design and consultation services (including contract administration, project management, travel and other incidental expenses), working closely with staff of Economic Development & Culture and the Union Station programming team; and other partners to refine their concept proposal to the requirements of the site and other conditions for project realization.

City of Toronto staff are organizing the Call for Artists, facilitating a jury and project selection. Collaborating with the artist and the design team, the Union programming team will manage all aspects of the production of the work, including budget, scheduling, coordination with the design team and general contractor, and installation.

About Toronto Union + Unionale

Union is committed to reflecting the diversity of Canadians in all our programs and operations. Our programming vision encourages and celebrates creativity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. Our goal is to strengthen the connection between public art and civic engagement ultimately striving to create connectedness amongst our communities.

We support innovation and collaborate with artists and cultural organizations throughout the GTA and internationally. The projects we curate are uplifting, grand scale, impactful, accessible and above all, foster meaningful thought and emotional dialogue about our experiences.

Within the walls of Union Station there are many common and unique public spaces that can be carefully curated with public art. Unionale is one of such unique and special spaces. It is a vaulted area located within Union’s new Fresh Market that is meant to be a fun and interactive thoroughfare that captivates people in this busy space. The area was specifically designed to animate the south corridor of the Fresh Market by creating a special art “alley” and provide visual storytelling and interest through a fun and creative artistic moment.

Unionale is a new public art thoroughfare currently under construction in Union Station that will be unveiled in September 2022 (subject to construction). The space will experience high levels of pedestrian traffic from Toronto residents and visitors alike.

As part of Union’s continuing contemporary programming, the public art in Unionale will rotate every two years. Unionale is part of ArtworxTO: Toronto's Year of Public Art 2021-2022.

About ArtworxTO

ArtworxTO: Toronto's Year of Public Art 2021-2022 is a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it. Working closely with artists and Toronto’s arts institutions, ArtworxTO delivers major public art projects and commissions, citywide, from fall 2021 to fall 2022. Supporting local artists and new artworks that reflect Toronto's diversity, ArtworxTO is creating more opportunities for citizens to engage with art in their everyday part of the City’s commitment to artists and art as part of COVID-19 recovery. All new commissions will be included in the ArtworxTO program wherever possible.

The City of Toronto’s new Public Art Strategy outlines the City’s commitment to public art created for, and with the input of, Toronto communities, and to create opportunities for artists of diverse backgrounds, experience and practice. We welcome submissions from all artists including those who are Indigenous, Black, and/or racialized; those with various intersectional social identities; those with lived experience of mental health issues and/or housing insecurity and artists who may not have previously worked in the public realm.

About TD

Through the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank's corporate citizenship platform, TD supports Arts and Culture experiences and initiatives that foster shared connections while amplifying diverse voices and perspectives.

Public Art Competition

Unionale possesses six display areas – five of which (including the ceiling) will be activated by artists. The sixth will serve as a didactic panel.

The five artworks will provide a cohesive feel to the thoroughfare, and may relate to Toronto events, people or neighbourhoods of cultural or civic significance. The proposals should complement the historical integrity and prominence of Union Station. Concepts should enhance the overall public environment and pedestrian streetscape experience.

For Unionale, the proposed artwork should convey positive messaging, and all content must be family-friendly and appropriate for public space. The artistic concepts should serve as an anchor to activate the site, and should be easily visible and accessible to the public.

Applicants must choose new or recent works that haven’t been showcased in this scale or capacity before.


Competition Process

This is a one-stage, competition for practicing Toronto-based artists, teams, or collectives who work in two-dimensional media (drawing, painting, photography, beading, embroidery, etc.). The artwork will be reproduced on vinyl and installed in Unionale in summer 2022.

A specially convened Selection Panel composed of arts professionals, community members and project stakeholders (including Union Station programming team and sponsor representatives) will be established for this competition. Non-voting City of Toronto staff will oversee the competition and selection process.

The selection panel will review all submissions and select the winning artist, team or collective, based on artistic excellence and demonstrated / perceived ability to create and execute a series of innovative, engaging public artworks. The selected proposal will best respond to the site, both conceptually and technically, and complement the overall design scheme and context of Union Station.

As Unionale will experience high levels of pedestrian traffic and be part of the city’s circulation
path, proposals will be held to the following criteria:

·         Art can/may relate to an event/persons which is of cultural or civic significance to the
City of Toronto, or celebrate public and/or seasonal holidays.

·         Art can/may promote the history, use and/or prominence of Union Station

·         Art should convey positive messaging, and content must be family-friendly with no
swearing or nudity etc. as this is a public space

·         Art should meet the artistic and heritage integrity of the building

·         Artwork will be approved using the following criteria: uniqueness/originality, professional
quality (neatness and craft), aesthetic quality (design, composition, color/tones),
concept, selection and application of materials, and complexity/level of digital technology

·         Art should be easily visible and accessible to the public;

·         Art should serve to anchor and activate its site

·         Art should enhance the overall public environment and pedestrian streetscape

·         Art must be able to be reproduced and printed on vinyl for the site. Artists will not be permitted to paint/directly alter the Unionale art surfaces.

·         BIPOC artists/ organizations are encouraged to apply.

·         The artist acknowledges that TD Bank is the exclusive financial institution sponsor Union and therefore the partner may not seek or promote, or include logos from a sponsor of a competing financial institution.

·         All artwork will be approved by the Union programming team

The selected artist will be notified in early July 2022.

Proposed Schedule (all dates to be confirmed)

April 13, 2022: RFP issued
Twelve weeks (April 13 – July 6, 2022): Request for Proposals
July 6, 2022 at 5 p.m.: Submissions due
Early July 2022: Selection panel meeting
July 2022 (date to be confirmed): Artist notifications
August - September 2022: Artist works with Union and City of Toronto teams, and external consultants and fabricators, to apply the proposed artwork to the area specifications.
Late September 2022: Artworks are printed on vinyl and installed in the Unionale thoroughfare.
October 2022: Launch of Unionale.

*Please note that, due to the ongoing construction in Union Station, installation and launch timelines may shift.

Submission Requirements

Professional artists, teams and collectives are invited to respond to this RFP by submitting the following in a single PDF document:

  • CV and two (2) references (for each team member, if applicable)

  • Letter of Interest: brief artist statement explaining the proposed project, showing relevant experience, and general artistic approach. Please include your experience with and intended approach to the community engaged process.

  • Renderings of the five artworks to be situated in Unionale.

Application must be labelled with the name of the artist and project (Name_Unionale), and should not exceed 20 MB total size.

The document should be emailed to with subject line “Name_Unionale”. The submission deadline is 5 p.m., July 6, 2022. Late submissions will not be accepted.


Questions and Contact

For more information and specifications, please contact:

Katriina Campitelli
Public Art Officer, City of Toronto